From SMH, 23.12.08:
The Health Department's assertion that the reduction of registered nurse numbers in rural hospitals is because many patients are low-care cases waiting for nursing home placement is patently wrong ("Skilled nurses axed in cost cuts", December 19).
I am a registered nurse at Moruya Hospital. This is a busy district hospital with regular surgical and gynaecological operating lists, a busy maternity department, a medical-surgical high dependency unit, a renal dialysis unit, oncology and a busy accident and emergency department.
Greater Southern Area Health Service is cutting registered nurse positions in all these acute areas and has closed the long-stay ward so that for the first time there are regularly patients on trolleys all night waiting for beds. These cuts are obviously economic and not in the interests of patients, staff or efficiency.
Joy Fenn Moruya
TRAINED NURSES ESSENTIAL
From SMH 22.12.08
After years of concern about standards of care and untimely deaths in the NSW hospital system, the Government has just paid millions of dollars for the Garling report. Was this all just window dressing?
Now NSW Health comes up with a plan to downskill the nursing workforce further by making half the workforce in rural hospitals untrained nursing assistants ("Skilled nurses axed in cost cuts", December 19).
It comforts itself that these staff will be supervised by a registered nurse, but they are increasingly new graduates, as the older staff retire. Placing increasing pressure on new graduates will do nothing for their retention in the workforce.
Jenny Haines Newtown
Aged people with dementia require skilled nurses to care for them - registered nurses as well as enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing.
NSW Health says the cuts are justified as many hospitals are working as aged care facilities, which implies that aged care facilities require only basic nursing skills.
Yes, aged care facilities send their residents to hospital for treatment, as there is inadequate coverage by GPs. But caring for the sick elderly in the aged care facilities provides better outcomes with qualified staff who know them. It is also much cheaper.
Anyone who has cared for a person with dementia, who most likely also has other diagnoses, knows the skill, education and experience required.
With skilled registered nurses and adequate GP services, these people can be cared for without transferring them to hospital, where their confused state is only exacerbated by the unfamiliar environment. Having more aged care beds, with qualified staff, will keep acute beds free.
Rosemary McDonald Towradgi